NFL 2010 Preseason: Titans Vs. Cardinals
During last night's game I saw some good and some bad things. The matchup between these two teams was sluggish at the start, with two consecutive 3-and-outs for both offenses.
The Titans played last night's game with a fire and intensity that I did not see from the Cardinals. From the way they ran the ball on offense to the way they played run-stuffing defense, the Titans played fairly well from top to bottom.
The Cardinals, without top receiver Larry Fitzgerald, struggled mightily on offense. Matt Leinart failed to produce a single first down, and backup quarterback Derek Anderson was inconsistent throughout. The Cardinals did not open any running lanes for their RBs, and could not stop the Titans rushing attack. A lackluster performance from the starters and backups, and a solid effort from the third-stringers.
I will go into detail throughout this slideshow to further explain what else I saw from last night's game. Here we go.
Matt Leinart's struggles continue
- Physical tools: Is player "A" big enough, strong enough, fast enough to play in the NFL? If so how strong is is arm? Can he take constant hard hitting? Is he physically dominant in the college game? The questions here deal with a players natural and developed physical attributes
- Mental Make-up: Is player "A" a student of the game? Does he understand the game of football? Does he have a strong mentality as a leader, or is he a follower? Can he handle the media pressure? Is he confident in himself? These questions help determine whether or not a player can deal with the pressures of the NFL, and are dedicated to devoting themselves in order to better understand the game.
Matt Leinart, against the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football, completed 4 of 6 passes for 28 yards, with zero touchdowns or interceptions. Leinart so far through the preseason has completed 10 of 13 passes for 77 yards, with a 90.9 QB rating. If you have not watched Leinart at all this preseason, the stats may mislead you. 5.9 yards/attempt will not cut it in the NFL, and a long throw of 16 yards is unacceptable with all the talent he has at WR.
I have always been baffled at why Leinart has not succeeded yet, and until last night I figured he would straighten things out. Here it is:
Leinart’s problems come down to his lack of urgency. The body language, the slow reads, and lack of leadership qualities needed at QB, lead me to questioning his ability to become the Cardinal’s franchise QB.
In his sideline interview, he essentially blew off his performance, saying” dude it’s the preseason who cares. “ also putting aside his poor game due to the Titans constant pressure.
Leinart has all the tools to succeed; throwing ability, perfect hieght at 6'5 to see over the line, and a wealth of receivers who are playmakers. The single problem I have with Matt Leinart, is his makeup.
When scouting a NFL prospect, scouts take a look at two major categories in their decision of whether or not to draft a player.
Both categories are equally important and help determine the overall outlook on how successful a player will or will not be. In some cases the physical tools far outweigh the mental make-up, and it is up to the coaches to motivate the players, etc. Or some players understand the game so well, and are so devoted that it compensates for their lack of athletic ability.
In Leinart's case, I feel he has the tools, not the make-up. Matt Leinart has no sense of urgency in the pocket, or even on the sidelines with a reporter. Whether or not this is his "style", I couldn't care less. Leinart needs to understand that he could possibly lose his job. He has taken a country club attitude into this season, knowing he is the starter. What I would like to see is Leinart take over this team, and lead this team.
When Leinart is in the pocket, he goes into "slo-mo" and seemingly believes he has all day; the NFL nowadays is not like college ball and blitzes every down. Constant pressure is there and the ball must come out in a flash. If Leinart can become more aware at the line of scrimmage and make quicker decisions, this Arizona Cardinals offense could be very successful. We still have two more games, so Leinart has time..
Tennessee Titans Linebackers
"Wow enough already with bashing Matt Leinart."
Alright, moving on, the Titans front seven dominated at the point of attack last night.
Stephen Tulloch (pictured) has become an elite LB and anchors this defense. The entire LB corps across the board played very well, scraping across the line and making downhill plays. The linebacking group combined for 12 solo tackles, and 7 assisted.
Rookie Rennie Curran wears Keith Bullock's former No. 53, and has impressed the Titan's coaching staff with his off-season training and preseason play. Look for Curran to get some playing time if he continues his play.
Arizona Cardinals Defense
For all its worth, Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell still played well despite getting gashed by the Titans offense.
Campbell especially, made 6 solo tackles, 1 assisted, and forced a few errant throws. Campbell who I have talked about since early summer, has become a very good player in the NFL over the past year and a half.
If you read my Arizona Cardinals 2010 team preview, you will have a further explanation of my thoughts.
The safeties, Rhodes and Wilson, were very inconsistent yesterday. Both failed to give help over the top, and both failed to close on corner routes during a Cover 2 coverage. Vince Young pretty much had his way with the secondary, passing for 128 yards on 9 completions.
Joey Porter played decent, making a few tackles and looking fluid in pass coverage. Yet what I worry about is his lack of use oin the pass rushing scheme; a premier pass rusher, Porter blitzed less than 3 times I believe. Nevertheless if the Cardinals are more aggressive in game-planning in the regular season, look for much more success.
From top to bottom I felt throughout the game, as if the Cardinals were playing with a lack of intensity and focus. Blown coverages, missed tackles, it was not very pretty. This team needs to work hard these last few weeks of preseason in order to prepare themselves for the regular season.
Titans Running Back Depth
"Yes Samkon Gado, there's a party in the endzone and you invited for seconds."
The rushing attack for the Titans last night started with Chris Johnson and instead of tailing off with his exit, excelled even more.
The combination of Javon Ringer, Samkon Gado, and LeGarrette Blount rushed 23 times for a combined 90 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Javon Ringer: Hard-nosed runner between the tackles, showed some strength in broken tackles, and is a one-cut runner. Played immediately following Chris Johnson's exit. Ran for 27 yards on 7 carries
Samkon Gado: Ran down-hill and exploded through tacklers. Seeks out contact, and is a violent runner. Scored touchdowns on a pair of solid 4 yard runs. Looked like he was back in Green Bay, where his career really took off. Gado is making a push to become a goal-line back. Ran for 21 yards on 7 carries for 2 TDs
LeGarrette Blount: Showed his sheer athletic ability, hurdling defenders in his 247 pound body frame. Displayed ability to get to the outside and go North-South. Blount ran with a lot of strength and power and essentially closed out the game for the Titans. Ran for 42 yards on 9 carries.
All in all, the Titans are very deep at the RB position and look poised to lead the NFL in rushing yards.
Chris "Beanie" Wells
With the QB struggles of the Arizona Cardinals, it is imperative that Chris Wells in 2010 become a workhorse back.
The combo of Tim Hightower and Chris Wells will need to be major contributors this upcoming season if the Cardinals are to have success as an offense; last night I saw nothing that would make me believe this can happen.
It seems that the Offensive Line is unable to create running lanes, neither backs should be at fault for the lack of production so far, as both have clawed and scratched each play just to get back to the LOS (line of scrimmage).
Nevertheless Wells busted open one long run of 17 yards, showing everyone he is very capable in getting to the outside. Wells must be used effectively and efficiently for the Cardinals to succeed.
It sure looks like Vince Young has almost put it all together.
Aside from a few mistakes and early 3-and-outs, Vince Young looked poised in the pocket, getting the ball out in a flash. Young has made tremendous strides over the past year, and Young showed everything you would want to see from your starting QB.
Young completed 9 of 13 passes for 128 yards, while rushing for 10 yards.
VY is a winner, as evidenced by his 26-13 NFL record, and he is dedicated to success. When interviewed, he basically said he understands the game more, and focuses on determining what the defense is trying to do. A more devoted Vince Young can be extremely successful in 2010, as he will not be counted on to throw for 4,000 yards, but rather throwing less than 10 interceptions.
Vince Young also showed the playmaking ability rolling out of the pocket and instead of tucking and running, actually threw to a check down receiver for a first down. Through 2 preseason games, I have been amazed at how far this QB has come. Let's see how he closes the preseason out...